Demi Lardner: Birds with Human Lips @ Gilded Balloon
Demi Lardner is a good comic. She has the insight, courage and verve to be a great comic, but that will come with time. The idiosyncratic Aussie is in town for the second time in her young career, and on Friday night she wasn’t at her best. Having won the career-starting “So You Think You’re Funny” at last year’s Fringe, I was anticipating a strong showing from the twenty year old.
Birds with Human Lips is about anxiety and self-doubt: how your neuroses can get the better of you, and overwhelm and nullify your life. The themes of the show seemed to seep into her performance. Jokes that most likely landed for her in the past didn’t hit the mark with the tightlipped weekend crowd. She was noticeably uncomfortable at the lack of belly laughs – which isn’t to say there weren’t any, as her observations on early adult-hood anxieties were spot on.
The show opens with her eating a bag of crisps and walking around her house procrastinating from the long-list of things she must do. She hasn’t left the house in three days, her dad calls her to urge her to get stuff done but she simple can’t be arsed. Accompanied by her friend, “a tapir” that doles out pearls of wisdom in an automated computer voice, the more she tries to be like an adult the more she fails.
Human Lips flip flops between her interactions with her world and speaking to the audience, and sharing her musings on life as an anxious child of a dysfunctional family. But her nervous stage persona wasn’t fully realized. Despite the unfortunate shortcomings, she delivered something that had a lot of promise and ingenuity. Her absurdist predilections were ambitious and she took some risks that definitely paid off. But like so often with young artists, you see the shades of influence rather than hearing the individual voice. There was plenty of Demetri Martin, Zach Galifinakis, and the Mighty Boosh present, but I look forward to seeing this pint-size artist come into her own. It takes incredible courage and intelligence to travel halfway around the world to put on a show at the worlds biggest arts festival. I can’t wait to see what she’s got next year.